New pharmacy paves way for targeted student wellness

29 September 2023 | Story Kamva Somdyala. Photos Lerato Maduna. Read time 3 min.
Pharmacy manager, Asanda Ndinisa, stands inside the new pharmacy.
Pharmacy manager, Asanda Ndinisa, stands inside the new pharmacy.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) now has a student wellness pharmacy aimed at not only improving how students interact with the healthcare services provided to them, but also to enhance their student experience.

Housed at the Ivan Toms Building, the recently launched pharmacy will increase students’ healthcare offering, while also shedding the load on some of the Student Wellness Service (SWS) staff.

Dr Memory Muturiki, the director of SWS, said: “This is one of our greatest moments because it is the first time UCT has a pharmacy on campus that is licenced and can trade for students.”

As a division of the Department of Student Affairs (DSA), the SWS pharmacy, Dr Muturiki said, means access to primary healthcare will be increased because SWS was previously limited in the kind of medication that they could offer to students.

Student Wellness Pharmacy
UCT’s pharmacy is located in the Ivan Toms Building.

“Our pharmacy is student-centred; a lot of what we offer is geared towards them. We are also open to suggestions from students on how they want the pharmacy to be. In future, we are also looking at different ways of providing our services after hours, through pharma e-lockers.

“The bigger picture is also about strengthening the mental well-being of our students. It is about supporting student success and [UCT’s] Vision 2030, as well as financial sustainability to make it affordable for us to bring in more medication on campus,” said Muturiki.


“One can now walk in and get medication as they normally would at any other pharmacy.”

For medical services manager at SWS, clinician Dr Nandipha Qangule, a lot of the work included the medical consumables part of the job: ordering medication and taking charge of the medical room, which meant resources were being split thinly across the board.

“When the department decided to create a pharmacy and get a pharmacist to support the clinical team, it was a huge load off our backs that we were responsible for. One can now walk in and get medication as they normally would at any other pharmacy and not go through a consultation first, freeing up space for someone else who might need the consultation.

“Also, a pharmacist will give you advice on whether you do need to be seen by a clinician on site and that’s another advantage,” said Dr Qangule.

Liberating the soul

A handful of students provided feedback of their experiences with SWS, giving staff glowing reviews on their professionalism, compassion, and wisdom during consultations.

Director of the DSA, Pura Mgolombane, said the launch of the pharmacy was a tangible demonstration of what the department envisages for students.

“This is an important occasion from a DSA perspective because when we speak about the liberation of students, this is what we mean. Students have been clear in how the pharmacy liberates them and how they are receiving their medication.

“In a bigger context, I want to re-emphasise the point around how at [the] DSA we speak about liberating the soul – not only for its own sake, but for student well-being. And that leads to academic success. We are very intentional in building blocks towards student wellbeing and student success.”

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